Sunday, August 19, 2012

Coming Around Full Circle

My first blog post on was on Sunday, December 13, 2009. I had written blogs before and knew of their ability to show up in online search results. That is the reason I started the blog - because I wanted to see if some long lost relatives might find the blog and be able to provide some missing information for my family tree.

That first blog post was titled Obituary for Evelyn Gibbons of Atlantic, Iowa. She was the former Evelyn Bellinger, daughter of Henry Bellinger and Alvena Johansen. She was my mother's first cousin. I had found a listing in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for Evelyn Gibbons, but I wanted to confirm that this was the same person as my family member. An obituary was needed.

In March of 2011, her great granddaughter discovered the blog post and left a message confirming some information. The obituary, however, was still elusive.

Until yesterday.

I was at the Omaha Public Library yesterday for a talk by my friend, Gail Blankenau, and had planned a few lookups to do in the Genealogy Room on the third floor of the W. Dale Clark Library. I grabbed the "Gi -" card catalog of Omaha area obituaries and there it was - Evelyn's obituary - at long last.

Evelyn Bellinger Gibbons' Obituary
Omaha World Herald
March 27, 1995
Omaha Public Library
I snapped a photograph of the obituary, then used an iPhone app called Genius Scan, to create the following image:

Evelyn's obituary as seen by Genius Scan

The card catalog also had obituaries for Evelyn's two sons, John and Bernie Lee. I had previously discovered the obituary for her husband, Clifton.

At last, there is some closure to my very first blog post.

The link to this post is

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Scanning Through Time

Bill Kelly, Susan Petersen, Mabel Petersen, Otto Petersen
circa 1964
I've been wanting to scan the family 2 x 2 slides from the 1960s for a long, long time. Eight years ago I bought a scanner that scanned slides, negatives, photographs and documents. As happens, I've upgraded computers twice since then and the software no longer works on my new computers. HP no longer upgrades drivers for that scanner. On the recommendation of some folks in the Technology for Genealogy Facebook group, I tried VueScan software - a good resource, but again, it requires the HP drivers to work.

About a year ago, without reading all of the product details, I purchased a Wolverine slide scanner. It's a standalone scanner that does 35mm slides and negatives. I didn't catch the point that it was 35mm only. So that turned out to be a waste of money since I wanted to scan the 2 x 2 slides.

After reading a lot of product descriptions and reviews online and asking for advice from the aforementioned "TechGen" group, I went to Office Depot and got the Epson V500. Normally I buy nearly everything online, but I didn't want to make the 35mm mistake again. And it happened to be on sale last week. I asked the clerk to unpack the box so I could see the mattes used for slide placement. He even got a ruler for me so I could measure them. Finally! I have the slide scanning assembly line up and running.

Trip Down Memory Lane

What a delight it has been to go through these photographs from 50 years ago. But also very sad - of all of the people in the pictures, my Dad and I are just about the only ones still living. I think I had forgotten just how much time I spent with family during my teenage years. Most of my memories of the 1960s are of going to concerts and pinning up photos from TeenSet and 16 on my bedroom walls.

There are photos of me with all three sets of grandparents. I have two sets on my Dad's side since his parents divorced and remarried. The photo above was taken at Christmas, 1964, in our home. This is the only photograph of me with both of my grandfathers, Bill Kelly and Otto "Grandpa Pete" Petersen. What a treasure to discover this among the slides. I also see that we are eating from Grandma Kelly's china, a set I still have today.

It seems like a lot of our family gatherings revolved around either the dinner table or the outdoor grill and patio. It seems like our patio and deck were a focal point of our activities. I also noticed that when we took posed pictures, we stood in front of a fir tree in our front yard. It's interesting to see how it grew over the years.

In addition to photographs of special occasions, there are photos of everyday life - like when I won radio contests to get Perky's Pizza or Diet Rite Cola - there are pictures of me with the coupon and with the pizzas! Junior High and High School graduation events are captured in time, as are camping trips and boating adventures, and vacations to Missouri and South Dakota. Dad even captured a shot of me exiting the Varsity theater after watching A Hard Day's Night twice on opening day.

The photos helped me remember just how much I enjoyed hanging out with my parent's friends and the older adults, including my parent's siblings and Dad's aunts and uncle and cousins. I never cared much for the kids my own age or younger, I wanted to listen and participate in the grown-ups conversations. I remember how thrilled I was once I finally graduated from the kid's table at holidays to be able to sit with the adults.

Oh, how I wish I could turn back time and remember all of the stories they told. Mom's family were more storytellers - they loved talking about growing up in Greenwood, Nebraska, life on the farm, and the various injuries they inflicted on one another. Dad is definitely the storyteller in his family. I can ask him one question and the conversation will go on for two hours.

As I reflected on my day of scanning at twilight last evening, I teared up as I said to myself, "I miss my family." But it's so nice to still have those memories and love for them in my heart.